A US federal judge in Texas on Friday blocked new applications to a programme that protects immigrants who were brought to the United States as children from deportation but said the hundreds of thousands of people already enrolled would not be affected until further court rulings.
US District Judge Andrew Hanen sided with a group of states suing to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, arguing it was illegally created by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
Hanen found the programme violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when it was created but said that since there were so many people currently enrolled in the programme - nearly 650,000 - his ruling would be temporarily stayed for their cases until further court rulings in the case.
"To be clear," the judge said, the order does not require the government to take "any immigration, deportation or criminal action against any DACA recipient." Democratic President Joe Biden, who was vice president when Obama created the programme, has said he wants to create a permanent pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, known as "Dreamers."
Biden issued a memorandum on his first day in office directing the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to take "all actions he deems appropriate" to "preserve and fortify" the programme, which former President Donald Trump, a Republican, tried to end.
The US Supreme Court last year blocked a bid by Trump to end DACA, saying that his administration had done so in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner.